Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween is almost here . . .

I went to a Halloween party on Saturday, at the home of a friend from high school. This is a man who sets a high bar for costumes, having once attended a Hawaiian-themed dance dressed as a pineapple.

What with my jet set lifestyle and the all-consuming Sock Wars, I didn't have much time to plan or make a costume. I was hoping to find the pattern for the crayon costume that I wore in high school, but alas it has vanished. When I went to Jo-Ann fabrics and checked out the clearance section, I came across fur. 60-inch wide blue fur, for only $5 a yard. Add to this an animal suit pattern (McCall's 8953), a couple of Styrofoam balls, and you get this:

This was a very quick costume to sew, it took maybe four hours total. I love working with fabrics that don't fray--no need to finish the raw edges!!! The hood was improvised by Mom, she didn't like the three-piece hood pattern that came with the suit. It did take a long time to cut the pattern out, and I had to buy a new vacuum cleaner to deal with the blue fur that is ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Here's a close-up of the eyeballs:

Hard to tell where the face ends and the body begins, isn't it? The eyeballs are Styrofoam balls, I levelled off one side and hot-glued them to the hood. If you see my mom, don't say anything if her hair looks a little thinner than usual--the hood ended up partially glued to her hair. The pupils are black self-stick felt, and are positioned to look a little googley. At the end of the party, they may have looked a little drunk, too, but that was sheer coincidence.

Before going to the party, I stopped to show my costume to my little friend J____, and to check out her skunk outfit. She wasn't quite sure what to think about it. Once we were both dressed up, she spent a fair amount of time just staring . . . . staring . . . . staring. In some quarters, this might be considered rude, but in this case it was somewhat justified. At least she didn't openly taunt me, as did several passersby as I walked from my parking space to the party on Capitol Hill. It's been a long time since men hooted at me from a car, and it's still not particularly satisfying.

In the end, J_____ came to accept her furry blue friend, even though I brought her no cookies, and probably transferred a fair amount of fur to her skunk costume. I've seriously inhaled a ton of that fur in the last couple of days. I'm looking forward to startling the children who come trick-or-treating on Tuesday.

So long, Dibbus!

The third pair of Sock Wars socks are finished, and ready to wing their way to the Netherlands for my first international kill. Please--do not alert Interpol. It's just a game, people.

Given that they've been widely exposed to the puppies, and Vegas, I thought I should wash them before mailing. I didn't take them to see the Beastie Boys, but who knows what germs lurk in the Hard Rock Hotel. Ugh, I'm sorry I even wrote that, because I really, really don't want to know. For these socks, I used the same yarn from Fancy Image Yarns that I used on the first pair, because Dibbus' original assassin received socks but didn't send SIP or yarn to her killer. This yarn is hand-dyed merino, and the colors are slightly less freakishly bright than they appear in the photos.

To the right are the drying socks, again looking very very bright. The cuffs seem short to me, and they look even shorter here, but they do contain the required number of Rib of Death rows. Heh, heh--death row. Anyway, count them if you don't believe me.

Sock Wars started with 772 players, and there are 147 still alive. I'm in the top 20%, which surprises me because my assassin is still alive. Maybe the long distance to be crossed by these socks will finally lead to my death. I can barely stand the suspense, but am glad that I can get back to some other projects.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress - Gull Stitch Baby Cardigan(s)

The first time that I made this sweater, it was 1989 or 1990, and it was a gift for the man who helped us book bands at Wellesley. I had only relearned to knit the summer before, so I'm not sure that the sweater even made it though one wearing / washing. The yarn for that one was dark green. I've made maybe 10 of these since then, they're pretty quick to knit, the don't take a lot of yarn, and there isn't much sewing at the end because they're knit neck down in one piece. The pattern was in the first or second Vogue Knitting that I bought, but it is also in Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman

I remember that this yarn came from a store in Ballard that I think has closed now, but I have no idea when I bought it or whose baby this was for. The name of the yarn is Bambino, its a lightweight wool, probably washable. I hate the needle that this is on, and I don't know exactly where I am in the pattern, but I think that this is salvageable--I probably have the information about this in one of my 10,000 little knitting notebooks. Hopefully, it's one that is here, rather than in S____ M_____'s basement, in storage. I definitely want to put it on new needles, though.

This sweater didn't fare so well, I didn't make it past the yoke before wanting to use the needles (or maybe the rest of the yarn) for something else. Again, no idea who I started this for, or when. The yarn is Baby Ull by Dale of Norway. The red more or less obscures the pattern, but it's same as the yellow sweater. How lazy am I, that I haven't ripped this out yet? Even now, as I sit here typing about it, I have no intention of ripping it out, although it clearly has to happen.

See the pattern better, in black & white.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Las Vegas: The Ambiance

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is right next to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is marked by a giant guitar. Kitty-corner from the Hard Rock Cafe is the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, which I sadly did not visit. I considered a nice plate of schnitzel and gurkensalat with a gigantic Munich-style beer, and then I pictured myself napping through the rock show.

The Hard Rock Hotel has good rooms, with huge flat screen televisions. However, I got the feeling that if they could tack on a surcharge for turning the television on and off, they would. For instance, on top of the room rate, they charge a $5 club fee. I'm not sure if this club has meetings, or a charter, or what, but I didn't get anything out of this fee. Also, the hotel has a gym, but in order to use it there is a $20 gym fee. Good thing that I didn't have time for that!

As with all Hard Rock affiliated places, the hotel has a stunning array of rock memorabilia. Nirvana guitars, Axl Rose leather kilt, even a Britney Spears schoolgirl outfit. But my favorite, the only thing that I took a photo of, is to the right--the Donnie Wahlberg doll. Maybe I shouldn't have given the one that I bought at Toys-R-Us for $5 in the early 90's to Beauregard Kahn, the Concerted Efforts dog. I think I still have the sneakers--do you think they'd put those in a case? They have been known to moonwalk. Note to B_____ G___: I think you've finally found a way to pay for K______'s college. I believe that yours in in mint condition!

Las Vegas: The Travel (with Deadly Sock)

Travelling to Las Vegas was very easy, very smooth. Nobody else sat in my row, which allowed me to take photos that I would normally feel too stupid to take. Here's a photo out the window, probably somewhere in Nevada, although I can't really say for sure.

No photos were taken on the flight back, it was a 7am flight so it was much too early to think about anything. The weather wasn't as nice, either, and my row was full, so I didn't want to seem too weird.

While flying, I worked on the latest pair of Sock Wars killer socks, both on the way to Vegas (pictured here) and the way back. I'm at the part in the sock where I knit and knit, but it feels like there is no progress whatsoever. I'm hoping to finish them up tonight, and mail them out tomorrow, but it may take a little longer yet.

The flights went by very quickly, I listed to some NPR podcasts both ways. The main NPR station here in Seattle isn't always easy to tune in in my area, and it plays waaaaaaay too much Prairie Home Companion, so it was nice listening to the "NPR Shuffle"--especially the Billy Bragg interview, I'm a huge fan of his. I still kind of expect the programs on the NPR station here to be the same as in Boston, so now I never know when anything is on, either.

Here's the Socks enjoying their own seat, along with the other critical companion on a flight--the iPod. Note that the socks were not buckled in, but were stowed during takeoff and landing.

Las Vegas: The Music

Oct. 23, 2006: The Beastie Boys at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas NV
I've seen the Beastie Boys twice before--at the Brixton Academy in London in the mid-1990's, and at Key Arena in Seattle in 2004 or 2005. The show in Vegas was a lot looser, not quite as flashy. It wasn't really a tour stop, as far as I can tell, so there weren't elaborate backdrops / electronics / costume changes. While I enjoy the costume changes and the flash, it's pretty amazing that the band doesn't really need any of that to put on a great show.

Most of the photos I took are terrible, I'm not all that adept with using my point-and-shoot camera in the dark. The GA crowd wasn't super pushy/shovey, so I was able to get pretty close to the stage without worrying about bodily harm or unnecessary crushing. Towards the end I was a little closer to the gigantic speakers, no earplugs, so I'm a little bit deafer today. Not to be mistaken with def-er, I think that the knitting blog tells the real story about my rapidly fading coolness.

Love the Rat Pack Look, very Vegas.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress - Harlequin Booteeeeeee

I'm not really sure when I started this pair of booties, although I think that it may have been sometime in late 2002 or early 2003. Were any of you about to have a baby around then? One that didn't receive any booties? The pattern is the Harlequin Bootee, from 50 Baby Bootees to Knit by Zoe Mellor. One bootee, obviously, is totally knitted, though not quite finished. There are about a million ends to weave in, and some sewing up to do.

This is approximately what the bootee would look like if I sewed it up, already. The pattern also calls for a pom-pom to go on the tip of the toe, a cute touch that would conveniently hide the weird looking spot where the colors all come together.

The yarn is merino, I think, but I've lost the ball bands. I also have no idea what needle size I used to knit the first bootee, so it will be interesting to see if a second bootee will come out the same size. I still love the color combo--I must have started these for a very sophisticated baby, indeed.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress - Maimu's Mittens

This mitten has been untouched for about five years, even though I think that it looks pretty good, and I don't seem to have dropped any stitches from the very small (probably US1) needles that I used. The pattern is Maimu's Mittens from Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia. I think that this book might be out of print now, I don't see it on Amazon. There are some great patterns in it as well as a ton of info about, well, folk knitting in Estonia.

When I went to grad school in Austria, I didn't take any knitting supplies with me. I don't think I took any other craft supplies either, which seems unbelievable given that I took about 150 pounds of other crap.

I was in Turkey during the week of Sept. 11, and then back in Vienna and off school during the next week. Most of my class was travelling, so I spent a lot of time watching CNN and thought that having a knitting project would keep me a little more occupied. I found a yarn store, and although the woman working there didn't speak English and I had no knitting-related German vocabulary, I bought a book in English (448 schillings, or about $30), needles, and yarn. The woman in the shop thought that it was a little expensive, but since I could actually read it, it seemed like a good choice. At least that's how I think the conversation went, my German wasn't very good. Once school started back up, I put it away and I haven't picked it up again. The furniture in my room was not the curl-up-and-knit type, as S____ M____ and E____ G_____ can testify, and there wasn't much extra time.

Here's proof of when this mitten was started--September 17, 2001. I find it hard to believe that I still have the book, the notebook, the yarn, and all of the needled. I think that I need to start this one up again.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Sock Wars - Target #3

My latest target's target's target is MIA, having received a finished pair of socks without returning her socks-in-progress, or responding to e-mails from her killer or me. Bad form, Knitzo, bad form. This weekend I started a new pair for my new target (she's in the Netherlands), using the 2nd hank of Puyallup Fair yarn. So far, so good. I'm using the same size needles that I used to knit Kate's deadly socks, but I'm trying to knit tighter. Thanks to a stressful week, this seems to be working. I'll try not to relax too much, and end up with huge, floppy clown feet. The color is right for that, anyway--not quite as electric as the colors appear in photographs, but pretty bright.

Before I learned that I'd be starting a brand new pair, I picked up the yarn to the right. It's Alpaca With a Twist Fino, a lace weight alpaca/silk blend. I'm thinking about attempting the Icarus Shawl, because the one that the Yarn Harlot wore to Bumbershoot was so beautiful. Nevermind that I'm already working on a lace shawl, or that I need to work on Halloween cards and start thinking about holiday cards. Or that I'm unlikely to even WEAR a triangular lacy shawl. Isn't the color nice? Let's think about that instead.
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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Only Four Months Late

Back in June, Frieda and I visited Boston and stayed with E_____ G______. During that time, a promise was made (freely, with no persuasion or trickery by E_____) that I would make her a skirt like one that I had brought with me. My skirt was tone-on-tone black, with a ruffle made from goldfish fabric. I thought that E____ might like something a little less fishy, so I made hers with peony fabric on the ruffle. The black is different, it's from a collection of fabric that's called something like "Circus Time", but is a pretty subtle dot print. The pattern is pretty simple, although the French seams really slowed down the process. Mostly because they involve a lot of very close ironing, resulting in scorched fingers pretty much every time I worked on it.

It goes in the mail on Monday, E____!

On another topic, I'm planning to go and see the Beastie Boys in Las Vegas on Oct. 23--anyone else interested? I think that the tickets might be sold out now, but there are always scalpers.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dormant Work in Progress: The Stripey Scarf

I started this scarf last winter, it was meant to be a Christmas 2005 gift, or maybe it was a birthday present in the early part of 2006. I don't really remember. And I don't remember offhand what the rib pattern was, although I know I have it written down somewhere and that it came from this book. The yarn is Classic Elite Inca Alpaca, which I've used before in a very nice VERY LARGE shawl. That shawl was only one color, however, so there weren't so many ends to weave in. I read some sage advice today from Yarn Harlot's book about weaving ends in as you go, in order to prevent NOT EVER weaving them in, and I think that I should take this advice. The plan is for the rest of the scarf is to continue in grey until I have about a skein left, and then reverse the order of the stripes so that the ends match. I am still on board with this plan, although I'm worried that I'll lose the paper with the tick-marks on it, and then the ends will never ever match.
Here are some closeups:

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Christine, We Hardly Knew Ye

Out in the mail today, the second pair of Death Socks. I'm still alive, as is my assassin. How much longer can this go on???

Isn't the yarn beautiful? I would have liked to have kept them, but they are on their way to kill, kill, kill. The socks will have traveled about 4700 miles in their deadly journey by the time they reach their target.

I'm a little concerned that one is slightly smaller than the other, being knit by different people (Kate knit 1 and an inch or so of the 2nd). But the difference isn't enough to have merited a needle change, and will probably not be noticeable once they're worn--it's only apparent when the socks are stacked on top of each other.

I finished the socks (or to be fair, sock) on Sunday, but due to the mail holiday on Monday they didn't go out until this morning. With all of that extra time, I packaged them up nice. I borrowed the yarn graphic from Kate's Etsy Shop.

One last photo for today:
Frieda, the Beached Whale.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Skulls, Sox, French Seams

It's almost Halloween!!!! Time to start a bunch of different Halloween crafts, and see if any end up finished. Also time to break out my Day of the Dead bag, which I made a few years ago. It's still perfect for this time of the year.

In non-Halloween related news, I'm still alive in Sock Wars, and have received and started to finish the socks started by my target. The yarn is very nice, see "before" photo here. The colors are great, and there has been no color pooling at all. Hopefully, I'll finish knitting today and will send them off on Tuesday to my new target, Christine. Hopefully, Christine will make good progress and possibly kill off Christy before my socks arrive.

This weekend I finally finished the skirt for E_____ G______, I powered through the inevitably scorched fingers, I just need to do a final look-over to see if there are any threads peeking out through the seams. The french seams look good (on the inside at least), but they made hem difficult to roll properly, and the amount of ironing did result in burns that I normally never get. The seams might be more successful on a skirt with maybe three pieces, instead of seven, and a straight hem. I'm not 100% happy with the rolled hem, it's both a new technique and a tricky thing to master. I have not mastered it, and I will not be offended if E___ takes it to a tailor to redo. But I won't pay for the tailor, E_____!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Whole New Face

I've moved over to Blogger beta, which is meant to be more user friendly and flexible. So far, I agree, except that IE 7.0 wouldn't save my color changes. Any comments on the layout, colors, etc.? I'm looking at you, E____ G_____.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dormant Work In Progress: The Beaded Scarf

I think that every so often, it's a good idea to discuss a not-so-current Work In Progress. These are items that may have gotten off to a good start, but at some point fell off the radar screen. I have a virtually endless supply of these (don't look at me like that--I am NOT alone), although certain items may be difficult to locate, and/or are living an independent life in a Somerville basement. By going through these project, I'm hoping to either find some motivation to pick them up again, or to find the courage to permanently abandon (i.e. rip out or otherwise destroy) the project in favor of a clean slate of some sort.

WIP #1: Beaded Scarf from Scarf Style by Pam Allen

Yarn: Wool Cashmere blend that I purchased at vintage goods booth at a sewing expo. It's a very fine gauge, but with two strands it's a nice weight for this skinny scarf.

Needles: #7 red plastic needles, which look hideous with this particular yarn.

Beads: I bought some frosted purple beads to use, but couldn't find them when it was time to start the scarf. Instead, I found some gold-ish seed beads. I like the beading pattern, although it was very time-consuming to strand the beads and I strung a few extra that are now just hanging out on the yarn. From this point until the mid-point of the scarf, it's all stockinette, i.e. dullsville.

The future of this project is promising, although I don't feel any urgency at all to pick it up again. It is a very portable project, a good alternative to the sock project to keep in my purse. However, I should keep track of the rows, since the scarf is made in two halves and then grafted together. If my graft turns out a little sloppy, I'd like the halves to be the same length.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Endless waves, endless waves

While waiting for unfinished socks from my Sock Wars target (arriving later this week), I made some progress on the Print O the Wave shawl. I now have six repeats completed, and I'm very happy with the way it is coming out. Only 11 repeats left. . . . on this half. Yikes!

This is how the shawl looks unstretched

This is how the shawl looks stretched - it's Magic!

I really need to watch the chart closely as I knit, but I haven't had to pick out any whole rows in the last few repeats, so it's coming along a little faster. The red yarn is a lifeline, in case there are any big mistakes I can rip back to that point without losing more than I need to--this is something I learned on the Sockwars forum, and it makes me feel much better about the whole tricky lace pattern thing.

One thing I love about Safeco Field... that the grounds crew sometimes dances between innings. This is from Sunday's game, and the grounds crew was joined by a group of kids, also dancing. It was the last game of the season (finally), now there's just Spring Training to look forward to.